What happens after the surgery?

After Cataract Surgery – What I can I expect?

You will most likely have three follow-up appointments after your cataract surgery. Your first follow-up appointment is the day after your surgery. We also recommend that you have a driver for this visit. This is not an absolute requirement, but is probably safer for you because of possible blurred vision. At this appointment, your vision and eye pressure will be checked, and detailed instructions will be given for the eye drops you will use. We generally expect that the vision will be a little blurry, but this should improve in the first few days following surgery. It is not unusual to have an elevated eye pressure for the first few days after the surgery. If the eye pressure is elevated, you may need to use an additional eye drop to help lower the pressure.

The second follow-up appointment usually takes place about 1-2 weeks after the surgery. Usually, the schedule for your eye drops will be changed at this appointment and reviewed with you. Your eye may be dilated again at this appointment to allow a thorough examination of the retina.

The final follow-up appointment happens about 1 month after the cataract surgery. At this appointment, you will be checked for a prescription for eyeglasses. Most patients at this appointment will be instructed to stop using all of the surgery-related eye drops.

In general, your eye should feel better and have better vision each day after the surgery. If a day or two passes and you notice worsening symptoms of pain, redness, or blurred vision, contact your doctor immediately.

Which Dr. will I see for my post-operative care?

Your surgeon bears primary responsibility for making sure that your surgery has the best outcome. You will almost always see your surgeon on the day after the surgery. If you have a family optometrist, they can also see you for some of your post-operative care. You might choose to have follow-up visits with your optometrist if their office is more conveniently located, or you have a relationship with that doctor that would make your follow-up care more comfortable in their office. Shared post-operative care is known as co-management. If you choose to have your follow-up care with your optometrist, it is important that you know that you can return to your surgeon at any time or with any problems.

Are there any activity restrictions after surgery?

Modern cataract surgery has a very quick recovery and there are minimal activity restrictions.

  • Do not rub your eye for at least the first week after surgery. If you rubbed your eye you could push open the incision and cause an infection.
  • Avoid strenuous activities for one week after the surgery such as lifting heavy rocks in the garden, or high impact exercise. Normal household activities are generally safe.
  • There are no restrictions with bending or lifting most household objects.
  • You may bathe or shower the day after your surgery. Keep your eye closed while you shower and avoid getting water to directly into the eye.
  • You should not swim or bathe with your face under the water for one week after the procedure. You can be in a pool if you keep your head above water.

What vision changes should I expect?

After cataract surgery, most patients with healthy eyes end up having vision that would allow them to pass the DMV vision test without eyeglasses. Many patients are amazed by the brightness of colors and the clarity of their vision. Most people find that after cataract surgery they are able to perform their normal distance visual tasks without a significant need for glasses. Things we hear…

  • Doctor, I didn’t notice how dirty my house was! Now I can see the dirt on the floor and have to do a deep house cleaning.
  • Doctor, I looked in my closet and found out that my black dress is really navy blue. Colors are so bright now.
  • I can see the rocks and trees on the mountains miles away.

What about my glasses after the surgery?

Within a few days after your surgery, your vision will likely have improved to a point where you see better without glasses. If this is your first cataract surgery and you are nearsighted or farsighted, you probably will still need your glasses to sharpen the vision in your other eye. This can feel awkward because one eye needs glasses and the other one does not. A good way to cope with the change in your vision is to remove the lens from your glasses in front of the surgical eye. If you have difficulty doing this at home, most glasses stores such as LensCrafters can help you. Another option is to just keep your glasses on in which case the surgical eye will not see clearly, or remove the glasses completely in which case the nonsurgical eye cannot see clearly. If you have a cataract in the other eye, doing that surgery within a few weeks can start the recovery process faster and help give you equal vision.


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